About Reach for the Stars
Reach for the Stars is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization working to promote math and science education in the Greater Minneapolis Area Public Schools. Launched in 1996, the organization is a group of interested parents, teachers, and community members seeking to provide informal, inquiry-based, hands-on educational experiences for elementary and middle-school-aged youth.
Each spring, Reach for the Stars (RFTS) sends a group of youth from several Minneapolis area schools to Space Camp and Space Academy at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center (USSRC) in Huntsville, Alabama. There the trainees participate in a six-day camp where they will experience astronaut training activities and simulated space shuttle and space station missions. The purpose of exposing young people to these technologies is to spark their imaginations and stimulate their curiosity. We believe they will return with ideas and interests that will enrich their study of math and science throughout their academic careers.
In order to prepare the group for this experience, we provide monthly courses on rocketry and related science to prepare the participating students for the week at the USSRC.
Each fall, we hold informational meetings for interested students and their families. A short DVD documentary of an earlier expedition to Space Camp will be shown followed by a short briefing on the process of application and acceptance, the cost of the program and how we work with participants and their families to raise the funds.
It is important that parents and students are aware of the commitment that will be asked before deciding to participate.
The total cost of the program is estimated at $1,600 per student. Families privately pledge the amount they can afford. The pledges are tallied and the group raises the difference through various fundraising activities. All accepted students and their families participate in raising funds.
Students interested in attending Space Camp complete a five part application which includes two essays and recommendations from two teachers. An independent party reviews and ranks the applications and recommendations. Reach for the Stars then notifies applicants of their acceptance.
We select applicants who best demonstrate that they are interested in learning how math, science, and technology can help prepare them to lead personally fulling and responsible lives.
Space Camp and Space Academy provide an experience that is immersive and engaging. It is potentially life changing in its effectiveness. But it demands team effort, from beginning to end.
Accordingly, our program requires commitment and teamwork from all who choose to participate. The experience involves significant contributions of time and money, safe travel, and compliance to terms established and administered by the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
We have no acceptance criteria related to academic achievement or social or economic status. All are welcome. We seek enthusiastic learners who are interested in personal growth and want to contribute to a collective effort in response to great challenge.
Science Saturday overview
Those accepted to the program are required to attend monthly meetings that include all students, their parents, the teachers and staff of Reach for the Stars. We call these meetings Science Saturday and they begin in December. Participants from the different schools are introduced and begin working together on various projects. The monthly meetings include team building activities, exploration of space flight, and building hot air balloons, model airplanes and rockets.
While the students are working on team building, parents focus on the business of raising the funds, completing forms and preparing for the process of sending their children off for a week at Space Camp.
At the first meeting, each family will be asked to pledge the amount that they can afford to pay towards the cost of their child’s trip. Reach for the Stars will then add up the pledges and determine if there is any shortfall of funds.
The entire group (families, students, teachers and Reach For The Stars) will raise enough money to cover any shortfall. There will be a number of fundraising activities that will include all participants. This is considered team building. Past fundraiser activities have included:
- Movie Night
- Pizza coupon sales
- Candy sales
- A silent auction
- A combination car wash/bake sale/rummage sale
Our philosophy is that every student who is accepted to MAC Launch will go - regardless of ability to pay. However: If we fail to raise the total amount, the trip will not take place. We all go or no one goes. Everyone will need to participate in fund raising.
Students accepted to the MAC Launch program will be expected to attend all Science Saturday learning experiences and participate in all fund raising activities.
We understand that students have many interests. We do ask that if you are accepted, you commit to attending all monthly training sessions and take part in all the fund raising activities.
Teacher Commitment and Involvement
The participating teachers will meet and set the curriculum. Most of the participating staff have been to Space Camp many times as chaperones. Our lead teacher has completed the NASA/Space Camp Educator Program that is run at the same facility in the summer. New teachers will be given plenty of support in the start up process by the lead teachers and Reach for the Stars Board. Teacher Chaperones will have airfare, local transportation and lodging expenses paid for by Reach for the Stars. The cost of substitute teachers are also covered for any days missed during our week at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.
We invite families to participate in the informal science learning sessions. Together, we will build flying models and a mock up of the space shuttle and a module of the international space station. All materials will be provided and all family members will be invited to join in. Parent participation is a large part of the process.
Minneapolis to Huntsville and Back
The students will fly in one or more groups on regularly scheduled airline flights and will always be accompanied by at least two teacher or RFTS Board Chaperones.
Space Camp and Space Academy
When the group(s) arrive in Huntsville, we will be met at the airport by representatives of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. From that moment on, the students will be under their supervision. The students are transported by bus to the U.S. Space and Rocket Center where they will be housed, fed and trained in the various activities on site. There is a nurse on duty 24 hours a day in the camp sick bay. Counselor supervision is maintained 24x7. The site is a secure facility and proper identity badges are required for access.
The RFTS Chaperones will be onsite for most of the days’ activities and can be contacted by cell phone. Students are not allowed to have cell phones, Blackberries, iPod touch devices or other means of contacting via email/text or voice. RFTS and Space Camp will make sure students can be contacted.
Space Camp web site
For a wealth of information on the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, go to www.spacecamp.com.